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From the Earth to the Moon
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Group Reads 2013 > September Group Read: From the Earth to the Moon

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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan (TheGreatBeast) Discuss anything you want about From the Earth to the Moon or Jules Verne. There will be spoilers in this thread so be wary when reading. In general try to give a warning if your post contains a major spoilers.

message 2: by Dan (new)

Dan (TheGreatBeast) I just started reading this earlier today, and I'm only a couple chapters in. It's a pretty humourous beginning, lampooning the arms race, and American attitudes and America's particular love of fire arms. It's funny how it even seems poignant today. I wonder how much of a satire and how much of an adventure story this will be.

message 3: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo | 1089 comments I agree I found the beginning very humorous. For me as you continue he gets very technical and describes in great detail everything scientific. I studied chemistry so It's not I don't understand but I would prefer a bit less to let the story continue. Considering this was written in 1865 it's pretty impressive the whole idea and the way it is based on the facts of the time. I'm about half way through now so looking forward to seeing how it develops.

message 4: by Dan (new)

Dan (TheGreatBeast) I just read one more chapter this morning, and I hope to get the chance to pick it up later, but I am already starting to see what you mean, he's talking about the trajectories necessary to launch a "ball" to the moon. It's pretty interesting though, the book is definitely a product of it's time, and yet somehow seemingly ahead of it's time.

David Haverstick | 14 comments Just started. Not too far due to getting distracted by the munchkins. FYI free to read on GR everybody.

message 6: by Dawn (new)

Dawn I used to collect antique books, and especially enjoyed looking through older science books. Reading through Verne's discussion of the technical aspects of the moon project reminded me of one book written in the 1920s that went through a whole set of calculations explaining why it would be impossible to go to the moon, based on the amount of gasoline it would take and how a vehicle couldn't carry the weight of fuel that would be needed to get there.

message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan (TheGreatBeast) I'm actually finding that aspect of Verne's book very interesting. Though much of it is outdated now, some of his technical explanations do still ring true, or at least partially. Just finished the segment on the plans for the bullet, very intriguing and well thought out. I like Verne's light-hearted writing style too.

message 8: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Parker (jparker1732) | 9 comments I enjoy the late 19th century science lessons; it is intriguing to see what people thought was possible then compared to what is known now.
For me the humorous portions helped move the plot along and kept it from becoming a complete science lesson. I particularly enjoyed the description of the gun club early on: "The estimation in which these gentlemen were held, according to one of the most scientific exponents of the Gun Club, was "proportional to the masses of their guns, and in the direct ratio of the square of the distances attained by their projectiles."
That sounds an awful lot like the fireworks enthusiasts of today!
Another point of Verne's writing that I did not realize until now was his fascination, at least in early works, with America and Americans. I was also struck by the "Apollo-esque" landing in the second book; "Around the Moon" which if your copy did not include you really should get it. Free at Project Gutenberg: "All Around The Moon"

message 9: by Dawn (new)

Dawn I finished From the Earth to the Moon, and since the edition I have also contains Round the Moon, I think I'll continue on with that. Verne really left us hanging with the voyagers getting near the moon but not knowing whether they would land or not. I have to say that so far it's been very different from the other Verne works I've read. It's been far more technical and humorous that the others. The technical details were interesting at first, but I found myself getting bogged down in them after a certain point.

message 10: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo | 1089 comments I have now finished both books and have to say I liked them. As I mentioned before too much science explanation for me but it didn't distract too much from the story. I do like Sci-fi which has an under-pinning of science as it gives you a sense that It could really happen.I can imagine that you'd have been blown away reading this when it first came out. A nice mix of humour and adventure even if slightly dated now. The other thing which is clearly a sign of the time is there is not a single female character in either of the books.

message 11: by Buck (last edited Sep 12, 2013 08:24AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 895 comments President Kennedy challenged us that we would send a man to the moon and safely return him to the Earth within the decade, and so we did. Jules Verne’s Gun Club characters did it in a year, with the technology and scientific knowledge of a century earlier. Well, they didn’t think about the safe return part. It’s often remarked how prophetic Verne was of the Apollo mission. Nah – any similarities are pure coincidence.

The first few chapters of From the Earth to the Moon, regarding The Gun Club, are lighthearted, even silly. This sets the tone for the book, saying this is written in fun - don’t take it too seriously. Verne based his story in science, such that it was. It was science as the layman of the day might know it. The design of the project was accomplished in three short meetings regarding the cannon, the projectile, and the propellant, without the inconvenient bother of the employment of engineers. And if there were uncertainties, have a brief debate, and –hip hip hooray- barge ahead undaunted. In debate, Michel Ardan declared that he was intrepid because he was ignorant of the dangers. Though unsaid, this was also true of Barbicane and his Gun Club cohorts. It is Verne's humor, the Gun Club's scientific bluster, that lets the mission succeed (sort of) and lets the reader accept the seemingly detailed technicalities without question. The light spirit of the book tells us not to quibble with Verne’s cavalier approach to science and technology. Still, the book is grounded enough in hard science to give it an air of plausibiltiy. There is one thing that did raise my eyebrows just a bit, and if Verne had done his homework he could have avoided this bit of geophysical fiction. Of course his readers probably had little knowledge of the topography of Florida and never would have suspected how outlandish it was for the Gun Club gang to discover a hill 1800 feet above sea level near Tampa.

The book is a pleasant quick read and more enjoyable than his Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, the only other Verne book I’ve read. The prose of From the Earth to the Moon differs in style, being much less the stuffy formality of nineteenth century writing of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. I suppose that this might be attributable to different translators.

message 12: by Buck (last edited Sep 13, 2013 05:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Buck (spectru) | 895 comments I've been told that the standard launch countdown - ...5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - came from early science fiction. When the time of firing Verne's cannon approached, at 40 seconds past 10:46, the crowd began counting upwards at the minute. The cannon fired on their shouted count, "...thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty!"

I guess the countdown came from the Buck Rogers era.

message 13: by JD (new)

JD Clarke (JDClarke) | 2 comments I'm enjoying Verne's lighthearted style, but his writing also reveals that he must have put in a great deal of reading and research to accurately present the science behind his novel. The information he conveys was not so easily obtained in 1865. I find myself wanting to know more about the man.

message 14: by Dan (new)

Dan (TheGreatBeast) I haven't been able to read much this month, due to a high work schedule. So I haven't finished this book off yet. And to be honest it's hard to read a lot of this book at once, it has a such a slow pace and dense explanations. In the beginning I was captivated by it, less so now. I just finished the part with the casting of the Columbiad. Still liking it though.

message 15: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 22 comments I accidentally read Journey To The Center of the Earth instead, when I realized I did get started on this one but then I also started reading War & Peace, which became quite compelling. Anyway, hope to get this the rest of this one done this week or next.

Having read 20 0000 Leagues Under the Sea as well as the above mentioned book, and having read a fair bit of H.G. Wells, one observation I would like to make is that it is always great fun to read Verne, I don't worry too much about the science behind the stories, but I do enjoy his positive attitude about the possibilities of science, (as opposed to Wells, who paints a more frightening picture of the "future")

message 16: by Dan (new)

Dan (TheGreatBeast) I took a break from this book for a bit as I lost interest in it, I hope to pick it up an finish it this week. In the mean time I read through Savage Night.

message 17: by Adelaide (last edited Sep 25, 2013 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Adelaide Blair This was a mixed read for me. When Verne deals with people, it's quite a lot of fun. When he deals with facts, he's kind of tedious. I honestly just skimmed through the endless calculations of the trajectory of the projectile etc. I am, however, very glad to know that they took some brandy with them because the book leaves them in a very precarious position.

message 18: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole Sanchez (tarrish) | 5 comments I'm a little behind, but I'm going to get to this book this week. I hope I can get through it. :D

message 19: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 22 comments Finished. It was a fun read. There was a great deal of teamwork at the heart of the story. The characters had a very positive attitude toward the value of human enterprise and great hope for the future of exploration. Nothing dark or dystopian in the imagination of Jules Verne.

message 20: by David (new)

David Merrill | 240 comments I'm about a third of the way through. I'm finding the discussions of the Gun Club interesting in that I wonder why Barbicane bothered to include anyone else in the proceedings. He sits back and listens to the others fumble around and then reveals the correct answer. I have to admit, I'm finding him a bit annoying.

I'm also reading Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain and found myself reading a scientific discussion on anatomy and biochemistry with a similar approach.I wasn't expecting any relation between the books at all. Hopefully I'll finish this soon and maybe read the sequel.

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